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Aspects of Plant Nematology

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  • Full or part time
    Prof P. Urwin
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round

Project Description

We are interested in all aspect of plant nematology. We have stock collections of many species and investigate a numerous aspects of nematode biology, pathogenesis and the host plant response.

As well as deploying the defenses developed over the past few years work continues in the lab to develop new strategies against plant parasitic nematodes to ensure long term solutions to the problems they pose to agriculture. We are using the model nematode Caenorhabditis elegans to study how nematodes respond to defense chemicals naturally produced by plants when under attack. Combined with the genome sequence of Globodera pallida, which is currently under way, this work will be used to identify targets in plant parasitic nematodes that will increase the effectiveness of innate plant defenses.

The availability of the G. pallida genome sequence led to work to identify the effector proteins that root knot and cyst nematodes, like G. pallida, require to establish feeding structures in the root. These proteins will potentially become targets for new defense strategies. Work in C. elegans is also aimed at furthering our understanding of how nematodes identify and move towards environmental signals. Using the G. pallida genome, the conservation of these mechanisms in plant parasitic nematodes will be investigated to guide development of novel repellent peptides.

Funding Notes

Self-funded students only.
Funding must cover (i) University of Leeds postgraduate fees (ii) provide sufficient living expenses (ii) make a contribution to bench fees

Applicants should have, or be expecting to receive, the equivalent of 2.1 Hons degree in the UK in a relevant subject.


1. Eves-van den Akker, S. Lilley, C.J., Jones J.T. and Urwin P.E. (2014). Plant-parasitic nematode feeding tubes and plugs: New perspectives on function. Nematology DOI 10.1163/15685411-00002832.

2. Eves-van den Akker, S., Lilley, C.J., E. Danchin, G.J., Rancurel, C., Cock, P.J.A., P. E. Urwin and Jones, J.T. (2014). The transcriptome of Nacobbus aberrans reveals insights into the evolution of sedentary endoparasitism in plant-parasitic nematodes. Genome Biology and Evolution 6 (9): 2181-2194.

3. Thorpe, P., Mantelin, S., Cock, P.J.A., Blok, V.C., Coke, M.C., Cotton, J.A., Eves van den Akker, S., Guzeeva, E., Lilley, C.J., Reid, A.J., Wright, K.M., Urwin, P.E & Jones, J.T. (2014) Characterisation of the full effector complement of the potato cyst nematode Globodera pallida. BMC Genomics BMC Genomics 2014, 15:923 doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-92.

4. Eves-van den Akker, S., Lilley, C.J. Jones J.T. and P. E. Urwin. (2014) Identification and characterisation of a Hyper-Variable Apoplastic Effector Gene Family of the Potato Cyst Nematodes. PLoS Pathogens DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1004391

5. Cotton, J.A., Lilley, C.J., Jones, L.M., Kikuchi, T., Reid, A.J., Thorpe, P., Tsai, I.J., Beasley, H., Blok, V., Cock, P.J.A., Eves-van den Akker, S., Holroyd, N., Hunt, M., Mantelin, S., Naghra, H., Pain, A., Palomares-Rius, J.E., Zarowiecki, M., Berriman, M., Jones, J.T. &. Urwin, P.E. (2014) The genome and life-stage specific transcriptomes of Globodera pallida elucidate key aspects of plant parasitism by a cyst nematode. Genome Biology 15:R43 DOI: 10.1186/gb-2014-15-3-r43.

6. Eves-van den Akker, S., Lilley, C.J., Ault, J.R., Ashcroft, A.E., Jones, J.T. & Urwin, P.E. (2014) The feeding tube of cyst nematodes: Characterisation of protein exclusion. PLoS ONE 9(1): e87289

7. Jones, L.M., Rayson, S.J., Flemming, A.J. and Urwin, P.E. (2013) Adaptive and specialised transcriptional responses to xenobiotic stress in Caenorhabditis elegans are regulated by nuclear hormone receptors. PLoS ONE 8(7): e69956.

8. Atkinson, N.J, Lilley, C.J. and Urwin, P.E. (2013) Identification of genes involved in the response of Arabidopsis thaliana to simultaneous biotic and abiotic stresses Plant Physiol. 162: 2028-2041.

9. Davies, L.J., Lilley, C.J., Knox, J.P., & Urwin, P.E. (2012) Syncytia formed by adult female Heterodera schachtii in Arabidopsis thaliana roots have a distinct cell wall molecular architecture. New Phytologist 196:238-246.

10. Roderick, H., Tripathi, L., Babirye, A., Wang, D., Tripathi, J., Urwin, P.E. & Atkinson, H.J. (2012) Generation of transgenic plantain (Musa spp.) with resistance to plant parasitic nematodes. Molecular Plant Pathology 13: 842–851.

How good is research at University of Leeds in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 60.90

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